What The Block NZ can teach us about values
I’m a fan of The Block NZ (the TV show where pairs compete to renovate apartments/houses for a cash prize). But as I was watching this year, I was struck by how contestants seemed to lose sight of their values when competing to win team challenges and room reveals. The Boyz were the only team that seemed to stick with their core values of fair play and concern for others.
I had to consider whether I too would dump my values if I were working under relentless pressure and deadlines while becoming increasingly sleep deprived. While I would like to think that I wouldn’t, in reality I probably would (at least in some instances). In fact, on a daily basis we all find ourselves in situations that stop us from living our values.
Eric Maisel discusses the obstacles to living in alignment with our values in his book Life Purpose Boot Camp. He suggests that we can turn a blind eye when we choose some action that will bring us financial or personal gain but is out of sinque with our values. It might be fair to say that the contestants on The Block were enticed away from their values by the lure of financial gain that had the potential to substantially change their lives.
Or perhaps in some instances the contestants had aims that competed with their values. Such as when the aim of winning overcame values of fair play and truthfulness when one team broke the ‘tools down’ rule and then denied having done so even though there was evidence to the contrary (actually that happened last season as well).
Or maybe the teams just didn’t have time to consider their values as they were constantly bombarded by numerous decisions and details that required their attention. This can happen in daily life as we rush mindlessly from one task to another. Living by our values require that we slow down and make conscious decisions based on what feels right to us.
Other obstacles to living in alignment with our values include our tendency to give in to desires or cravings (e.g. for sugar, alcohol, or drugs) or to follow a shady dream that excites us but is not consistent with our values. If we are tricky, we may turn our desires into values through rationalisation or some other defence mechanism; thereby allowing ourselves to justify our choices. Other times we may be too irrational to follow our values instead of our wants and desires, or we may lack the motivation to act on our values.
Sometimes we can find ourselves in situations where more than one value is relevant but we are uncertain which one to act upon; this can cause indecision and stress. Other times we may follow a worthless pursuit to try to uphold a value. Perhaps the block contestants fell for this one too as they pursued the goal of making more than their reserve at auction in a sluggish housing market that was unlikely to make them any money (according to experts). Although the goal appeared attractive as a means to uphold other values, such as providing for a family, it was intrinsically flawed in the current market.
This year The Block NZ 2019 was a reminder that we all come across situations that stop us from living in accordance with our values. So, what can we do about it?
What situations are stopping you from living in alignment with your values?
To think further about the obstacles to upholding your values, answer these questions, which have been adapted from Eric Maisel’s book Life Purpose Boot Camp.
- Are there any large ethical dilemmas in your life that make it hard for you to make decisions and take actions based on your values? List these. Can you extricate yourself from any of these dilemmas?
- Are your desires at war with your values? Do you regularly choose desires over values? Write about these situations. How might you change this?
- Are you clear on how to choose values in the moment, when many values are competing for your attention? Sometimes it helps to rank your top 10 values so that you can easily choose those most important to you in any given situation.
- Do you regularly turn desires into values through rationalisation? Describe any examples where you do this. How might you overcome this?
- Do you “wild goose chase” values by doing things that you claim support your life purposes but really don’t? Describe these situations. What different choices might you make in each situation?
- Are you in the habit of focusing on pressing matters so that you don’t stop to think about your values? Perhaps it's time to slow down, get clear on your most important values and start making mindful decisions that support these.